Should doctors have the right to kill unwanted or disabled babies?

A controversial female Oxford academic claims doctors should have the right to kill unwanted or disabled infants at birth because they are not real people

Francesca Minerva says doctors should have the right to kill newborn babies if they are disabled or just unwanted by their mothers.

The controversial philosopher and medical ethicist argues that a young baby is not a real person and so killing it in the first few days after birth is no different to aborting it in the womb.

Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Dr Minerva and co-author Alberto Giubilini, from the University of Milan, argue that after-birth abortion should be permissible in all cases in which abortion is.

The pair state that like an unborn child, a newborn has yet to develop hopes, goals and dreams and is therefore not someone with a moral right to life.

If parents are unaware that their baby is disabled until after birth the academics argue that, although it may be happy, it will never reach the potential of a normal child.

‘To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole,’ they argue. ‘The fact that the foetus has the potential to become a person who will have an acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.’

More controversial is their stance in favour of the infanticide of a healthy baby if a woman’s circumstances change and she no longer has the time, money or energy to care for it.

However, Dr Minerva says her argument has been taken out of context. ‘I wish I could explain to people it is not a policy – and I’m not suggesting that and I’m not encouraging that,’ she says.

Trever Stammers, a lecturer in medical ethics and former chairman of the Christian Medical Fellowship, describes the viewpoint as ‘chilling’, while Gill Duval, of the ProLife Alliance says every life is precious.

‘Everybody talks about what women want, but women wouldn’t want this,’ she says.

Should women decide whether their baby lives or dies or is the concept of infanticide inhumane? Let Marie Claire know your thoughts by posting a comment today.

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